Ten Songs for Listeners
Ten Songs for Listeners is the duo's aptly-titled debut album. It blends heartfelt songwriting and emotive instrumentation into ten eclectic tunes that dig deep and stay with you far beyond the final chord. Ryan Williams and Sean McNellis got their start working together in 2006, with Ryan's second EP, Shortfilm. After a few months of playing shows throughout the Philadelphia region, the two began recording the songs collected on 'Ten Songs for Listeners.' The album was officially released on May 8th, 2008. The acoustic guitar serves as a base to the organic arrangements. Each song has a story to tell, a nod to inspirations such as Joni Mitchell and Jerry Garcia. 'Ryan and I have a huge overlap in the music we listen to,' says lead instrumentalist Sean, 'but our influences are all over the place. I was twelve years old, listening to Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, Mike Bloomfield; I have a huge blues influence. Later I started getting into The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, the Band... I've developed my own style, and these guys were all inspirations for that.' 'Now on the writer's side,' Ryan adds, 'I drew a lot of influences from the singer-songwriters I was hearing as a teenager---Jewel, Alanis Morissette. My mom exposed me to Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Armatrading, Carole King... so before everything else my goal is to make sure to tell a story. As a singer, I learn from everywhere I can, so there's pieces of Folk, and R/B, Soul, Alternative. I'm a huge Joni fan, a Joan Osborne fan, also of Thom Yorke, Michael Jackson, and Lauryn Hill. So the goal with everything we're doing is to marry those parts of us that don't always intersect into something unique and enjoyable.' 'Lauryn singing 'Easy Chair!'' Sean says with a laugh. Indeed, the duo weave a musical tapestry with sound; The gentle, hypnotic bongos of 'Cecelia' serve as the perfect follow-up to the tom-driven opener, 'Electricity.' The vocal and mandolin melodies of 'Morning, Night, and Noon' are sure to etch themselves into your mind with quiet nostalgia. 'Solace' and 'Ear to the Ground' bare rhythmic, gospel roots. The stripped-down and direct 'Only Want to Be With You,' however, best exhibits the common thread in the songs. 'I'm very much into human emotion,' says Ryan. 'With most of the songs I've written, there's an emotion at the core of it, of understanding it. That's always the goal; you want to get the people who can relate to what's being said to feel it as the story unfolds. And for the people who can't relate to the lyrics, you put that same feeling in the arrangement, the instrumentation, the melodies, and it's accessible to everyone.' Sean finds this true at shows as well. 'I play off of the crowd's emotions. If I see that I'm grabbing the listeners, I want to hold onto that. That's what's important to getting into the heads of all our fans.' As their debut album's title suggests, 'Listeners' are the target demographic. 'It's music lovers that we most want to reach,' Ryan admits. 'I got asked once what kind of audience we were targeting, and I said 'Anyone who will listen!' We're not trying to be the 'band that kids love and grownups don't understand' anymore than we're trying to appeal strictly to adults.' In a nutshell, Sean offers, 'We're making music that you can love, and your mom can love, and your dad, and grandparents. Anyone who enjoys listening to music that's genuine, and good, and emotional will fall in love with this album.' Ten Songs For Listeners closes with the duo's first co-written tune, 'Perfect State of Mind,' a magnificent song with McNellis playing electric and acoustic lead guitars. 'When it's over, we want you to go, 'Oh no, it's over!'' he says. 'We leave you hanging so you'll want to come back for more.' 'It's a cliffhanger!' agrees Ryan. 'If the story came to an You'd have nothing to look forward to, and this is just the beginning.'